Weight loss is about your health, not about your appearance or your value as a person, and Shonda Rhimes, mega producer of TV favorites like Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy, penned an insightful essay for readers of her Shondaland newsletter that expands upon this crucial point.
In the piece, Rhimes describes how men and women alike treated her differently after she lost nearly 150 pounds. While people gave her compliments and “gushed” about her new body, she didn’t find their comments flattering, but rather a little unsettling. After all, she was the exact same person, just thinner.
“Women I barely knew gushed. And I mean GUSHED. Like I was holding-a-new-baby-gushed,” Rhimes writes. “Only there was no new baby. It was just me. In a dress. With makeup on and my hair all did, yes. But…still the same me. In one of my same dresses (cause why am I gonna buy a NEW dress when I can take this to a seamstress and she can just make it smaller? Who am I, The Crown? No, I’m from the Midwest, baby, and I come with coupons). Women gushed anyway.”
Rhimes also notes the different attention she received from men, and again, it was disconcerting. “And men? They spoke to me," she continues. "THEY SPOKE TO ME. Like stood still and had long conversations with me about things. It was disconcerting. But even more disconcerting was that all these people suddenly felt completely comfortable talking to me about my body. Telling me I looked ‘pretty’ or that they were ‘proud of me’ or that ‘wow, you are so hot now’ or ‘you look amazing!'”
Overall, Rhimes says she realized through her weight loss experience the intrinsic bias people have when it comes to body shape and size. “After I lost weight, I discovered that people found me valuable," she writes. "Worthy of conversation. A person one could look at. A person one could compliment. A person one could admire.”
That’s right—she says she felt like her value was directly related to a number on a scale. She could be the same talented, inspirational female leader and businesswoman, but suddenly, because she was thinner, she was somehow a better version of herself, more worthy of respect. “I discovered that NOW people saw me as a PERSON,” Rhimes writes. “What the hell did they see me as before? How invisible was I to them then? How hard did they work to avoid me? What words did they use to describe me? What value did they put on my presence at a party, a lunch, a discussion? When I was fat, I wasn’t a PERSON to these people. Like I had been an Invisible Woman who suddenly materialized in front of them. Poof! There I am. Thin and ready for a chat.”
Rhimes says it best: “Being thinner doesn’t make you a different person. It just makes you thinner.” Say it louder for the people in the back because we all need to check ourselves.